417 Ouellette Avenue

Since I sometimes get inspired, and plan out posts weeks in advance, occasionally things happen, and I miss out… Like this for example. The fire last month on Ouellette Avenue.

The store front that was once home to Valerie’s Ladies Fashions was among my favourite places along Ouellette. It was once of the few unaltered store fronts along Ouellette where you could get a feel for the boom years of the 1920’s.

The window displays retained their art deco lines…

And the floor!

Great art deco geometric patterns. The terrazzo floor was laid by a true craftsman.

When the rub & tug moved in, I was initially worried about a renovation… However…

It looked better once they got in. The ceiling was painted, and all the loose bits removed, and a new fixture added.

It’s all gone now, and another link to the past is wiped away.


31 Comments on 417 Ouellette Avenue

  1. Man, that’s too bad. I guess after a while you just start overlooking those details when you’re just walking by. I bet that floor looked fantastic mopped and missing the dried streams of pee.
    I’m happy the post office building wasn’t destroyed along with it. Would’ve been nice if all the stucco burnt off though.
    Hopefully, the site won’t remain a hole in the streetscape for too long.

    Thanks Andrew!

  2. I remember it as the nut house…..when it was all filled up in popcorn as you walked in……….lol haaaa i have a pic of the inside….I was hoping you would post it but this is ok too xo

  3. I like that one too Andrew. Too bad it is gone due to suspected arson at the whore…I mean “massage” parlour.

    Perhaps if and when it is rebuilt they may put back some retail once again. I guess I can only hope for that.

  4. I don’t think this was the Nut House. I remember it as a dress shop from many years back, although it was very similar in design to the Nut House.

    Going into this store was like stepping back in time.

  5. Yeah the nut house, my sister worked there for years , I rememeber always getting these candy coated popcorn rabbits at easter. The front window use to have a display of product with layer of popcorn. One time someone came in to point out that there were mice in front window munching down. Anyhow I digress, Isn’t it ironic that it was once called the nut house and then went on to become an adult massage parlor LOL

  6. I like your sequence of shots, just like camilo josé vergara.
    I guess I’m surprised you don’t have a shot of what it looked like after the fire though.
    Thanks for a great web site, I’ve been enjoying it for several months now.
    David in CA

  7. i remember shopping at valerie’s for my prom dress. hopefully something similar gets built in place and it doesn’t just end up being a hole for years and years.

  8. The saddest thing is, the fire was so bad, the roof collapsed into the little block of buildings there. So no matter what, it couldn’t have been saved.
    There isn’t too many hidden gems left downtown. awful city policies.

  9. The Nut House was next door at 419 Ouellette. The building was renovated beyond recognition before the inferno.

  10. Thanks for the reply Andrew,
    I understand what you mean. But if you’ve ever read ‘The New American Ghetto’ by camilo josé vergara, you know how powerful that is. Ah well, no worries. Thanks for a great web site.

  11. David in CA – Thanks for the comparison, CJV is certainly an influence in some of my photos. Because of his works, that’s why I have returned over the years to some of the sites. I will probably return to this one as well, but just haven’t had a chance.

  12. If 417 Ouellette wasn’t the Nut House, what was it? The windows and entranceway look so much like how i remember when I would walk in to buy a 25 cent piece of fudge after swimming at the Y and then wait for the bus home while scarfing it down. And yes, i too remember the colored popcorn layering the front windows with boxes of popcorn and blocks of fudge displayed.

    The souvenir shop next door was Rings & Things and I’m pretty certain what became “Awesome” women’s clothing (one door north) was my dad’s old store, “Bert Weeks Jewellers” where I used to work in high school. It moved around the corner onto Park Street when Harry, one of his watch makers bought it back in the the late 1970s early 1980s.

    I wish I had an old photo of that block from the “olden” days so I could figure this out.

  13. The nut house was narrow and only had a display along one side of the entrance. And the case was only waist high up, not full length like 417.

  14. that spot is an empty lot now i hope the city does something good with it like wall murals and grass and flowers and benchs

  15. Well dave if some new retail goes in that spot i hope to hell it’s not another shawarma palace talk about saturation

  16. a friend of mine had a souviner shop on the corner of park and ouellette back in the 60’s and 70’s

  17. I thought this was the Nut-House. I vaguely remember going here in the early 1980’s with my mom. She told me that she used to go there for treats as a child. I remember I was never too happy about whatever I got at the Nut-House. I preferred a place out in East Windsor called “Aunt Bettys” which was on the West side of Lauzon. With irony, we’d ONLY visit it AFTER the Dentist in Forest Glade. I’d get a candy Apple and Cotton Candy. There was a wooden “toy house” in Aunt Betty’s which scared me as a kid. It was creepy because, although you could look through the windows into the inside, the door handle never turned. CREEPED me RIGHT OUT!

  18. they’ll never build there again and it’s just gonna turn into a place for wino’s to drink at and a spot for the drunk kids to fight at230am

  19. mac phersons nut house was an establishment that you could not walk by and not go in to buy a snack. the popcorn in the front windows always got your attention. then walk in fresh popcorn, peanut brittle, all types of nuts that you bought by weight fudge. where would you start. it was an ouellette ave. icon that puzzles me why it went down. i mean, who could walk past that place. the treats were so inviting. if people didnt support it their taste buds must have been shot. oh those warm redskin peanuts. my dad bought them for us along with all the other treats. it was a great hold you over until supper. or a great after supper treat. if you dont remember mac phersons nut house or oare too young to know, you missed out BIG TIME.

  20. hi Edward yes I also remember the awesome smell as you got close to the Nuthouse while walking down Ouellette. Its a scent of roasted peanuts and popcorn that I remember to this day. I also agree with comments made earlier, I dont believe the windows at the Nut House went down as far as the pic above of Valerie’s. I think the nuthouse was either of the 2 stores next to Valerie’s in the picture, either the gift shop to the right or the Shawarma place to the left. If it was indeed 419 Ouellete, then it would be the Shawarma shop since street numbers go up moving away from the river.

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